Why It’s Important to Subscribe to My Newsletter

My newsletter is one of the most important things I have as an author. It lets me keep all my readers informed of my new work, writing, happenings, and all sorts of assorted goodness. There’s free fiction and more in each issue and I try to make it a bit more interesting with each installment. 2013 will see some cool changes as well with more added content every month. I always recommend that people subscribe and stay subscribed and this morning presented a perfect reason why.

Starting in January, Instagram says it now has the right to sell your photographs. Go read the article and nuke your Instagram account and then come back and we’ll continue.

Back? Okay, so Instagram is owned by Facebook. They bought Instagram for billions of dollars and now they have a very popular photography site that they are planning on turning into a serious revenue stream for themselves. I don’t use Instagram (I think I did once, but I nuked my account this morning just to be sure) but I do use Facebook. A LOT. I post tons of things out there to both my personal profile and my fan page. And my thinking is that if Facebook enacts a stupid policy change like they just did with Instagram, then what’s to stop them from doing the same at Facebook itself? While they’ve repeatedly said they won’t charge anyone to use Facebook, will they attempt to sell things that people post as a revenue maker? It’s possible. is it likely? I don’t know.

But I do know that if they ever did, my Facebook presence would disappear in a second. And that’s why I’m urging you all to subscribe to my free newsletter now so we have a redundant system of communication between us. Yes, you can find me on Facebook and stay up-to-date, but what if Facebook goes down or I stop posting there? By being a member of the coolest newsletter subscriber base on the planet (if I do say so rather immodestly) you’ll be sure that you always get the latest and greatest from me.

A new issue is dropping in a few days, so don’t wait. Subscribe right now by plopping your email address into the little box below. It’s quick, easy, and totally free. I will never sell your information to anyone. Ever. Period.


Don’t Compare Yourself to Other Writers

Over the last seven/eight days, I wrote just shy of 70,000 words. The schedule and word count per day broke down like this:

  • Monday: 10,000
  • Tuesday: 12,500
  • Wednesday: 12,500
  • Thursday: 7500
  • Friday: 7500
  • Saturday: 5000
  • Sunday: 5000
  • Monday: 8500

For me, this was a good haul. I’m in first draft mode, which (as some of you may remember) is what I affectionately call my “puke it out” phase. This is where I don’t give a crap about the quality of what I write; I just want the basic storyline down so I can then go back and rewrite, edit, tweak, ad infinitum until I’m satisfied with the quality of it. My method for writing during this phase looks pretty much like this:

  • Each chapter is roughly 2,000-2,500 words.
  • It takes me approximately one hour to write each chapter (sometimes less, sometimes more)
  • After each chapter, I take a nice break (Facebook, exercise, talk to friends, whatever)
  • Repeat

Depending on my pace and how fast the ideas are rolling, it’s possible that I will top out around 16,000 words each day – which is my personal best. More often, my comfortable daily range is 10,000-12,500 thereabouts. That’s comparable to the time a lot of people spend working each day in an office. By and large, this daily rate is unsustainable for much more than a week. And if I wrote like that each day, every day, I’d burn out in no time. But when everything is firing on all cylinders, yes, this is the rate I can churn out words at.

And you know what? Big deal.

Seriously. Big fucking deal.

Should you be impressed? I don’t know. I don’t much care. I don’t post word counts to brag or gloat. I post them because it’s a good day’s work FOR ME and I’m satisfied with what I accomplished. And therein lies the rub: as you progress as a writer, you will inevitably find a system that works for you. I discovered mine writing eleven installments of the Rogue Angel series for Harlequin’s Gold Eagle imprint. I had seriously short deadlines and as a result, found that I work very well doing first drafts in very little time. It’s intense and requires a lot of Twix candy bars and Pepsi, but it works for me quite well. So that’s how I write first drafts these days.

Last night I posted about sending off the first book in the Shadow Warrior series to my editor at Baen Books (while I’d been working on the first draft of this new novel, I’d also been editing Shadow Warrior.) and combined with the fact that I finished the first draft, I was enjoying basking in the afterglow of a job well done. A friend of mine reposted about me writing 70k words in 7 days on her status and that then opened up the floodgates of nonsense:

So here you’ve got a whole group of supposedly professional writers taking issue with what I’ve accomplished. Sarah Pinborough wins the award for “So Obvious, It’s Too Stupid To Post It But I Will Anyway” comment. Suw Charman-Anderson thinks that it takes some insane amount of pre-planning before anyone is capable of doing what I did. (In reality I worked from 3-page synopsis). Vincent Holland-Keen arrives on-scene to gladhand himself about how awesome he is for not writing as fast. Later on this same tosser brings up my character Jake Thunder (obviously without seeing the bit about Jake’s Native American past) and then claims he’s not judging, when in reality, he’s doing exactly that – equating hardboiled PI genre work as being lowbrow. Steve Mosby offers up his assessment that all I really did was “type” and later on agrees that my level of output is “misleading” because I might have spent months planning it out. Keith Walters offers up his assertion that he feels his quality is better when he writes 1500 words as opposed to anything more. Tom Wood trots out the belief that by me working so hard, I must have no time for anything else – he should probably take a gander at my biography and then spend a day with me doing everything I do (on second thought, he’d probably tap out before we even got to breakfast) prior to imagining me as some recluse without a life.

THANKFULLY, James Oswald shows up with a bit of reason.

The rest of that is pretty pathetic – a bunch of supposedly professional writers calling my work into question because they compared themselves to what I do. Had I posted a status update along these lines: “Yeah, just cranked 70,000 words in one week. What’s up other bitch writers? You guys suck for not being able to match my pace. Slackers. Doesn’t anyone have the power to go toe-to-toe with me?” then their little bitchfest would have been understandable.

But I don’t do that. I don’t compare myself to other writers. As far as I’m concerned, the only person I’m competing against is myself. Did I write this book better than the last? Did it take me longer to do so? Will this one sell better than the last book I wrote? Can I tell the story even better the next time? That’s what matters. Not what some other writer is doing. I don’t care what other writers do in the course of their work. If they’re bringing out one book a year – good for them. If they manage ten books a year – good for them. All I care about is what I do.

And all you should care about is what YOU do. When you write, there’s no one else involved. So why should it matter how other writers do their work?

It shouldn’t.

But writers tend, by and large, to have massive insecurities and massive egos. They like to think their way is the best and everyone else sucks anyway. This is why writers invent awards that no one has ever heard of, let alone cares about. This is why you get little bitchfests like the above. A lot of writers cut down other writers – and especially aspiring writers – because it makes them feel better about their place in the mud puddle. But none of that matters.

Time was, there used to be only so many books published each year, only so many editors, only so many contracts. Competition was tough. Nowadays, anyone can write and publish. Unfortunately, that makes the old “pros” mad. It upsets them that people didn’t have to slog it out in the trenches and accumulate tons of rejections. To most of these veteran writers, the new upstarts represent a direct threat to their livelihood.

That’s ridiculous, short-sighted, and frankly, stupid. But there you go.

When you make the decision to write, do it for yourself. Find your own path. Find what works for you. Don’t waste your time henpecking the techniques of other writers; they ain’t you. I can’t stand outlining, but I know writers who swear by it and it works for them. Awesome. I know writers who can churn out double the words I just did and do so consistently. Awesome. I know writers who can only manage 1,000 words each week. Awesome.

At the end of the day, what you accomplish is up to you – it’s not up to the whims of someone else. If you want to get something done, do it. Whining about quality or quantity or any of the other idiocy exhibited in the screencap above is wasted time.

Listen to your gut and do what works for you.

2012/2013 Publication Schedule (partial)

By Jon F. Merz

Since we’re heading into the end of the year, I thought I’d draw up a list of coming attractions of SOME of the stuff I’ll be publishing soon. So here ya go!

DECEMBER 2012

  • Zombie Ryu Episode 3
  • Untitled Lawson Christmas Story

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2013

  • THE CRUCIBLE: A Lawson Vampire Novel
  • Zombie Ryu Episode 4

MARCH 2013

  • Zombie Ryu Episode 5

APRIL 2013

  • Zombie Ryu Episode 6

MAY 2013

  • THE NINJA APPRENTICE: The Tsuba of Kotogawa (book 2)
  • Zombie Ryu Episode 7

JUNE/JULY 2013

  • Lawson Novella
  • Zombie Ryu Episode 8

AUGUST 2013

  • Zombie Ryu Episode 9

SEPTEMBER 2013

  • Zombie Ryu Episode 10

OCTOBER 2013

  • Zombie Ryu Episode 11

NOVEMBER 2013

  • Zombie Ryu Episode 12 (season finale)

ALSO IN FALL 2013

SHADOW WARRIOR: Undead Hordes of Kan-Gul (this is book 1 in my new fantasy series from Baen Books)

There’s more than this, but this is enough to make my head explode (in a good way!) I hope you’re as excited as I am! And by the way, my awesome offer still stands for those of you who want to give my ebooks as gifts this holiday season. I strongly encourage you to take advantage of it since you get something as well. And please share this with your friends and family. There’s nothing like the gift of some adrenalized mayhem courtesy of your crazy author pal to make the holidays into a thing of beauty!

Black Friday & Cyber Monday: A Special Offer from Author Jon F. Merz

By Jon F. Merz

This week is, of course, Thanksgiving. On that day, millions upon millions of Americans will devour many, many turkeys and enjoy a tryptophan-induced coma while watching football and spending time with family and relatives. In recent years, this formerly luxuriously-relaxing day has been invaded by the retail giants as they try to get you to leave the comfort of home and family in order to head out at night in the freezing cold to spend your money in their stores. In order to do this, they have lured you with promises of amazing deals. Many of you have done this and will do so again this year as you search for gifts for family and friends.

But there’s another way to enjoy Black Friday & Cyber Monday without leaving home: you can do it from the comfort of your laptop or wireless device.

And you do it by gifting ebooks.

You may not have known that you could gift ebooks. Many people don’t. But on each of the three major platforms that I sell on, the option to gift any of my ebooks is there.

Here’s where the gift option is on Amazon.com – and here is a link to all of my ebooks on Amazon.

Now, here’s the gift option on Barnes & Noble, which they make pretty small and hard-to-find. And here is a link to all of my ebooks on Barnes & Noble.com

Finally, here’s the gift option over on Kobo – very easy-to-see. And here’s a list of all of my ebooks on Kobo.

Now at this point, you’re probably wondering, “Well big deal – I don’t see any specials or discounts or stuff that would normally make me forego sleep in order to drive in the wee hours of the frigid morning the day of or after a major holiday. What gives, Merz?”

Here’s the deal: gift at least three of MY ebooks on Black Friday or Cyber Monday this year, send me the receipt at jonfmerz AT gmail DOT com, and I will do a couple of things, depending on the amount of the gift.

  1. Gifts of at least $10 will receive a personalized post card from me to both the recipient and the gift giver. For the recipient, I’ll put a nice “welcome to my fiction world” message, customized for them. The gift giver also gets a nice thank you post card from me.
  2. Gifts of at least $20 will get the above added extra, along with a select cover flat from one of the first four Lawson Vampire novels for both the recipient and gift giver.
  3. Gifts of at least $50 will get the post card AND a signed copy of THE KENSEI – again for both the recipient and gift giver.
  4. Gifts of at least $100 will get the BIG GIFT OF MERZ: a special personalized letter from me to both the recipient and gift giver, a signed copy of THE KENSEI, a box of author copies from my Rogue Angel writing years, cover flats, and Advanced Reader Copies of the NEW Shadow Warrior series coming in 2013 from Baen Books. (NOTE: the ARCs will ship when I get them, since I won’t receive them for a while yet).

Remember: not only is it TOTALLY cool to gift my ebooks, but in doing so, you – the gift giver – also gets a nice something special. This is a win-win and you don’t even have to deal with the insane crowds, mace incidents (remember last year), and early alarm clocks on a day when you should be sleeping.

In fact, I’ll go ONE STEP BEYOND all reason and sanity: I’m opening this up to anyone who gifts my ebooks between NOW and December 18th. Forget Black Friday and Cyber Monday – you can SHOP NOW and get it done!

With more people getting e-readers for gifts this year, the gift of ebooks to read on those e-readers makes incredible sense. And since I’m an indie, you can get MY ebooks for cheaper than those traditional BIG CONGLOMERATE publishers who price-gouge you like there’s no tomorrow. Your ten dollars goes a lot further with me than it does in a store and you get HOURS upon HOURS of entertainment. Ebooks are the perfect gift for anyone – if they at least have a smart phone, they can read ebooks!

So here are the links again to my ebooks on Amazon (KINDLE), Barnes & Noble.com (NOOK), and KOBO (other e-readers and computers). One final note: this offer is open to anyone from around the world! Send me your gift receipt to JONFMERZ at GMAIL dot COM once you’ve gifted the ebooks and I’ll get right to work creating your perfect present. (Please note: I’m unable to ensure that my part of your gift will reach them at the same time the ebooks do, but it will still rock their world to get a personalized gift from an actual author!)

One final thing: if you feel like doing so, please SHARE this post with your friends who might not know about “gifting” ebooks. I’d also appreciate Facebook LIKES, retweets on Twitter, and re-pins on Pinterest. Thank you!

Have fun & Happy Holidays!

8 Awesome Novels for Halloween!

By Jon F. Merz

Imagine being able to get EIGHT amazing novels that are all just perfect for the Halloween season and pay what you want to own them. That’s the idea behind Storybundle.com and I’m very proud to be a part of their current offering. My novel VICARIOUS along with great reads from bestselling authors like Douglas Clegg, Kevin J. Anderson, Joe Nassise, Patricia Fulton, and Annie Walls are all available for any e-reader or computer right now just by clicking here!

You get to choose how much of what you pay goes to the authors and how much goes to Storybundle.com (typically, the split is 70/30) and you can even choose to allot a certain percentage to some very fine charity groups!

Storybundle is a fantastic way to support indie authors and feel great about participating at the same time. So I encourage you all to go to Storybundle.com and purchase this exciting Halloween bundle right now! Don’t miss your chance to truly immerse yourself in some incredibly fine writing from some truly talented folks. And please be sure to spread the word – the more folks who know about this, the better!

Have a great weekend!